Monday, April 11, 2016

The Blue Hour by Douglas Kennedy

Product Details

Yes, I did choose this novel because of the cover! The colors are my favorites and it stood out on the new book shelf. I was browsing for something light and quick that I could read in between the two fabulous books I'm reviewing for "Library Journal" and "The Blue Hour" had it all: exotic setting in Morocco, an aging artist who disappears, a younger wife who's been kept in the dark about her husband's true nature.

The faults in Douglas Kennedy's book, though glaring to a reader with a logical mind, somehow don't remotely take away from the page-turning pleasure of this thriller. We all know that opposites attract, so perhaps it isn't all that hard to understand how Robin, a forty-year-old, successful, attractive accountant could fall under the spell of her client, the aging, dissolute, irresponsible artist Paul. He's everything she isn't, spur of the moment, by the seat of the pants, man about town, and her job as his CPA is to get his finances back on track. But readers, she married him!

Now, three years in, Robin is having second thoughts and Paul, sensing her frustration with his spendthrift ways, suggests that they take a month off, traveling to Morocco, a country where Paul lived and loved back in his college days. He will paint, she will relax and read, and they will "work" on fulfilling Robin's dream of having a child.

I missed my one chance to visit Casablanca and Tangier while cruising the Mediterranean. Those ports of call were what drove Don and me to choose that particular ship, but at the final moment, the powers that be caved in to the fearful tourists who felt that they were treated badly on previous stops to North Africa. We were terribly disappointed.

So I'm happy to report that the strongest part of Kennedy's book is the sense of place that he creates in the small towns of Morocco, the people, the buildings, the markets, coffee stalls, and shops, all come to vivid life. I felt that I was actually there in the souk and the dark, mysterious alley ways. And Robin and Paul are good guests, appreciative and adaptive, not the ugly Americans that we so often see when traveling abroad.

Their idyllic respite is shattered though when Robin receives some astounding news from her right hand man who's been taking care of the business in her absence. Undeniable proof that Paul has broken Robin's trust in what, for her, would be the worst possible way, sends her on a furious rampage and Paul into hiding until he can figure out how to make amends. But when their room is trashed, Paul's beautiful art work destroyed, and a bloody mess left on the bed and walls, the police conclude that Robin's anger caused her to murder her husband.

From this point on, you will not put the book down until its very satisfying conclusion. Robin dips into the well of strength that made her a successful business woman, traversing the country in search of the real Paul, discovering along the way many people from his past, and also learning even more about herself.

More about Douglas Kennedy, his thoughts on his work, and links to other novels and discussion questions can be found at his publisher's website:

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